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Starting in spring 2015, Illinois schools will give students new assessments created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Eleven states are administering PARCC, down from an initial commitment of 23 states. The assessments were designed to align with the Common Core State Standards that were adopted by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in 2010.

The PARCC summative assessments are standardized and will consist of two required components: 1) a Performance-Based Assessment (PBA), and 2) an end of year assessment (EOY) for grades 3 to 8, or an end-of-course assessment (EOC) for high-schoolers. The assessments are expected to take 13.5 hours for third graders and 15.75 hours for high-schoolers.

The PBA component of the PARCC requires that students demonstrate their knowledge and skills through extended tasks; they will take the PBA when approximately 75 percent of instruction has been completed. Students take the second part, the EOY or EOC, at approximately the point when 90 percent of instruction has been completed. The EOY and the EOC are composed of shorter, machine-scored questions.

In the spring, third- through eighth-graders will take the PARCC summative grade level assessment in both English language arts and math.

At the high school level, PARCC tests will be available for three courses: 1) Algebra II; 2) Integrated Math III; and 3) English Language Arts III.

Unlike the Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) which was administered to all juniors, high-schoolers will take these PARCC assessments in spring 2015 near the completion of courses that contain the corresponding standards. Students may take a PARCC assessment in either Algebra II or Integrated Math III or in ELA III if they are taking courses that cover those standards. These assessments might not necessarily be taken in the same year.

PARCC has also designed tests for English language arts I and II as well as Algebra I and Geometry. ISBE, however, will not administer those tests next Spring due to financial constraints.

The Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the PSAE will no longer be given. School districts, though, may continue to administer the ACT+Writing and WorkKeys (which were given as part of the PSAE) on a State test administration date at no cost to students or the district. It is unclear how long ISBE will continue to provide this option.

For a discussion on problems with the administration of PARCC, click on link below.